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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Last of the gothic greats?
There are many candidates for the last truly great DOCTOR WHO story in its original run. Some might say the show never had any greatness at all, others might believe that they every single episode is a masterpiece, but for me, IMAGE OF THE FENDAHL might be one of the last of the true greats, the last hiccup of gothic horror carried over from the previous year that had...
Published on 19 April 2009 by Emanon

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Ancient Skull, A Secret Cult, Mad Scientists, A Creepy Mansion & Slimy Monsters!!!!
Yet another Gothic style Baker story - this perhaps does not reach the same heights as Horror Of Fang Rock, Talons Of Weng Chiang and certainly not Pyramids Of Mars but is still easily the best of the current releases.
There's good atmosphere, effective sets and in terms of available resources some reasonable FX. Tom Baker is walking on water here with great use of...
Published on 2 May 2009 by Adam Jackson


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Last of the gothic greats?, 19 April 2009
This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
There are many candidates for the last truly great DOCTOR WHO story in its original run. Some might say the show never had any greatness at all, others might believe that they every single episode is a masterpiece, but for me, IMAGE OF THE FENDAHL might be one of the last of the true greats, the last hiccup of gothic horror carried over from the previous year that had ended with TALONS OF WENG CHIANG, and if it isn't the last great story, then surely, at least, it's first episode, is up there amongst the greatest openers.
Mad scientists working in a spooky old priory, unseen aliens from ancient history tampering with human evolution, strange ritualistic covens and an enemy that is described as "death itself" all feature in a story that is more about its characters than any sci-fi trappings. There's an acknowledged hint of Nigel Kneale in there, it has to be said, but that really is never a bad thing.
The main cast - a small, tight little unit of great character actors - are all on tremendous form and never play the script without conviction, even when faced with a "monster" that, whilst not being truly awful, does leave something to be desired, and Martha Tyler (no relation!) is a star.
The audio commentary is fun - not least because of the pairing of Tom Baker and Louise Jameson alongside Edward Arthur and Wanda Ventham, and the production subtitles are as informative and well researched as ever. There's a fun little easter egg, some (low res) deleted scenes, a trailer from those faraway BBC days, and a pretty good "making of" documentary, amongst others.
As ever, releases from this DVD range are put together with a lot of care, and IMAGE OF THE FENDAHL retains those very high standards.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The last genuinely scary Dr Who story, 8 July 2009
By 
M. Evans - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
There's something about Image of the Fendahl that still un-nerves me after all these years. There's a real feeling of foreboding and suppressed terror to it and it is often extremely atmospheric. I also feel it's one of the most 'adult' of all Who stories, it never talks down to the audience, it deals with some pretty heavy themes (a character committing suicide/devil worship) and must have given kids some nightmares on first transmission. It's also quite funny in places, but the humour doesn't detract from the drama or horror. Tom Baker is at his strangest, and the fact that the Doctor himself appears terrified of the Fendahl makes the story more gripping. There is some excellently atmospheric location filming, unusually most of it at night which adds to the spookiness, the monsters are unpleasantly grotesque (think big slugs with tentacles for mouths) and some convincing performances from a great little cast. The script may borrow a little from the ideas of Nigle Kneale, but then most Dr Who borrows from other sources anyway. For my money, Image of the Fendahl is one of the scariest and most genuinely 'gothic' stories in the series history, and gets better upon repeated viewings. Brilliant title too. Some great extras on this DVD, plus having Tom Baker on the commentary usually makes a DVD worth buying for that reason alone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Ancient Skull, A Secret Cult, Mad Scientists, A Creepy Mansion & Slimy Monsters!!!!, 2 May 2009
By 
Adam Jackson "Symphonic Metal Fan" (Stoke On Trent , England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
Yet another Gothic style Baker story - this perhaps does not reach the same heights as Horror Of Fang Rock, Talons Of Weng Chiang and certainly not Pyramids Of Mars but is still easily the best of the current releases.
There's good atmosphere, effective sets and in terms of available resources some reasonable FX. Tom Baker is walking on water here with great use of balanced humour, good adlibbing and real chemistry with Louise Jameson who looks VERY fetching in this story! All the actors are well cast here actually, and the show is refreshingly free of some of the hammy acting that often afflicts supporting Who cast members.
Yes, there is a strong Quatermass & The Pit influence, as well as Peter Cushing horror pictures such as The Creeping Flesh and Horror Express in terms of ancient evil with a scientific origin.
Lots's of dark corridors, white lab coats & 70's style scientific equipment to boot, also recalling The Island Of Terror again with Cushing.
The Fendalheen creatures weren't too bad actually - the giant ones were nowhere near as poor as say the myrrkha in Warriors Of The Deep, and the smaller ones were at least as good as those creepy maggots in The Green Death.
There was one great scene early on that reminded me of the black & white Curse Of The Demon with Dana Andrews, where a character is pursued by an evil presence in fog cloaked woodlands - very atmospheric. The actual exterior location is the same as in Pyramids Of Mars, I think.
The only factors that deny 5 stars are that firstly the Fendahl have a slightly muddled back story, and I personally felt the ending was a little underwhelming. What I did like was the twists involved such as bad guys that turn out to not really be the bad guys etc. Also the DVD is a bit on the light side extras wise. The documentary is a bit short and lacking in technical detail as well as any sort of contribution from Tom B himself - still Louise Jameson does her best to compensate.+
So really 4 stars for the story itself, with one knocked off for slightly dissapointing DVD extras compared to other releases.
Oh, and look out for Coronation Street's Don Brennan!
Definitely one for people who like 'Gothic Who' as well as Quatermass and 70s TV classics like Children Of The Stones...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, 8 May 2009
This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
From still the best Dr Who era. This story as I remembered it from 1977 was atmospheric with a gripping story line. And the Fendaleen eyes freaked me out back then. Even now it's still has an effect.
If only the modern series was this good again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars goodbye to gothic, 1 May 2009
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
After three hugely popular years as the doctor in stories that were full of gothic horror, tom baker's era changed. budget cuts and pressure to reduce the onscreen horror and violence left a new producer having to change things somewhat.

But Tom Baker's fourth season in the role did contain this story, a script originally commissioned during those earlier years, and as a result it's pretty much the last attempt at gothic horror they mounted.

On present day earth [as of the year of transmission] the tardis arrives in the british countryside near a country priory where scientists are conducting expermients on an ancient skull.

With dark forces lurking and horrible things happening to a hitch hiker, the fate of the world is at stake...

But whilst this is in the style of those three successful years it's not quite as strong as the best stories from them. The doctor takes a while to get involved in things and the plot doesn't really click till the end of part three. and then it stands or falls on the realisation of some monsters that you will have to suspend your disbelief for.

But the cast all play it totally seriously, it never slips into camp humour, and the production values whilst cheap are perfectly decent. This is a long way from being the best that the show has to offer but it's a little above average and not a bad watch at all.

There's not much on the dvd extras wise:

a commentary from tom baker and louise jameson, who played his companion leela, plus wanda ventham and edward arthur who play characters in the story.

after image: a twenty five minute long documentary about the making of the story. There's not quite as much detail of the shoot as I would have liked - apart from an interesting piece about a letter they had to send to mick jagger as a result of it - but it's a very good documentary and there are some good anecdotes and interviews in it.

deleted and extended scenes contains eleven minutes worth of these. although they come from an old and poor quality tape and a result the picture quality isn't great. most arte just long versions of scenes involving characters getting from one point to another and thus the deleted bits are people walking around or in and out of buildings so you can see why they were cut. There is one good moment for supporting character ted moss, though.

trailer: is the original bbc trailer for the story from 1977, which was broadcast right after the end of the preceding story. It's short but interesting.

viewable as PDF files, which you can look at if you view the disc on a computer, are the radio times listings for the story.

there's a photo gallery of shots from the story and it's production

production information subtitles which can be displayed while watching the story and give information about it.

a trailer for the next dvd release in the range: the deadly assassin. this story is as good as the trailer makes it look, but be aware that if you've not seen it and don't know anything about the plot it will give one key fact away.

for an easter egg, watch this on a computer and move the pointer over the left side of the screen till a doctor who logo lights up. click on this to see a short segment presumably cut from the documentary, with louise jameson talking about one of the worst bits of doctor who merchandise ever. it's well worth watching.

the disc has audio navigation and english is the only language tracka dn subtitles.

so just like the story, this release as a whole isn't the best in the range, but it's not bad and it's worth getting
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'That b'aint how you makes fruit cake!', 20 April 2009
This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
So, 2Entertain are having a strong spring 2009; The peerless 'Deadly Assassin' and now this superb story from the Graham Williams produced late 1970s era both released on DVD.
Image of the Fendahl is one of the stories spoken of as 'the Gothic era Doctor Who', and with its supernatural overtones, creepy mansion and mad scientist, it certainly ticks many of the boxes for Gothic horror. Sadly, most of the superb cast were unavailable for the DVD extras but there is a great interview with Edward Arthur who played irreverent scientist Adam Colby. Although the story's central threat - a green slimy monster in true Who style - is not that well realised, the creepy atmosphere and strong performances - Baker is awesome - make this a great slice of classic Doctor Who.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Old Dark House", 9 Mar 2009
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
Story Review only until I get my copy and see the extras. A very good story close to, but not quite a classic. Chris Boucher offers a strong script (sadly his last for the show) mixing the occult and Sci fi in a Nigle Kneale-tastic kind of way. While the menace is clearly alien it has aspects which are pure horror film- it can be harmed by salt in an early stage and a look into the eyes of another stage brings doom!
Good performances from Uncle Tom who always seems to enjoy himself with a bit of horror and Louise J, whose Leela is always at home with a bona fide monster.
A good guest cast all give horror film style perfomances e.g a worried Denis Lill and Edward Arthur, a treacherous Scott Fredericks and a wise old granny type in Daphne Heard.
There are good sets, direction and some nice occult imagery. All that really lets it down is the ultimate form of the Fendahl. More than a bit snail like and less than terrifying.
Still, it's The Police Box Show, where we can forgive a bad monster when there's lots to enjoy and especially with a double bill of the marvellous Who rep girl Wanda Ventham as an human character and then a priestesslike Fendahleen Core. True as the core she just flounces mystically but as Tom put it in "The Tom Baker Years" video;

"The more gold paint they put on Wanda Ventham, the more desirable she became. I was disturbed for hours after!"

With good reason.

Tom also gives a recipe for fruit cake that would shock even Heston Blumenthal!

Great stuff, especially if you like both Tom Baker and old horror films that are not so scary.

The Tommentary is a fun, chummy affair. Wanda Ventham does a good running joke of how her second role as the golden Fendahleen core made up for losing an iconic role to Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger. Not quite as funny as the best Tommentaries but great to hear Louise jameson and Tom interacting and to hear Tom's remarks about how "delicious" she looked as Leela.!

After image is an enjoyable making of, hampered slightly by the absences but still able to give a good sense of the making of this story. Anthony Read places it into context as the story where Robert Holmes handed over the reigns of script editing to him, while the cast offer memories. Topics focussed on include the controversial handing of a gun to a doomed character, the appearance of the monsters and the Doctor landing on top of Leela. Good stuff but a great shame not to include author Chris Boucher.

The easter egg, easy to find, has Louise recalling her involvement with the Barbie-esque Leela doll which is very funny.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fruitcake, 17 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
Phillip Hinchcliffe was out, Graham Williams was in, and Robert Holmes retained, for a while, and with stories like this - edited by Holmes and penned by his padawan learner, Chris Boucher, you'd hardly notice the difference.

There are four scientists in this house, and by the end of the story, only one will be left alive, just one - and it's the immensely likable Adam Colby, beautifully played by Edward Arthur - I wonder what happened to him.

The acting really carries this; the neat little ensemble cast really do shoulder the tale and run with it. It's hard to see what could have gone wrong - Dennis Lill, Scott Fredericks, Wanda Ventham as the other three scientists, and Geof Hinsliff as a little man with a hat and a shotgun. The scene where he makes friends with Leela is a delight to watch - in the midst of all this sinister madness about a prehistoric skull and a hole in time, two humans born worlds and centuries apart, just click. It's lovely.

And as if it couldn't get any better, Daphne Heard (just check her out as the senile nanny in Upstairs Downstairs - I know... but do it anyway) rises head and shoulders over the rest. As Louise Jameson says in The Making Of, 'An actress who really knew how to serve a text'. No mean praise from someone of Miss Jameson's standing.

It's as if (and I hope Mr Boucher will pardon the suggestion) the writer had watched Dr Who do Dennis Wheatley in The Daemons, and decided now to do HP Lovecraft, and instead of Damaris Hayman's brilliant and birdlike Miss Hawthorne, we get Daphne Heard as the dumpy, grumpy Granny Tyler.

Give the script its due; it's hard not to look at an old woman after someone's just threatened to set a dog on her, but by gum Granny hits back with 'Ain't a dog born that'd go for me, boy. They've got more sense than most people'. It's worth buying the DVD just to see this pitch-perfect performance. 'One day John, I'm going to be getting too old for all this'.

The plot is hokum, but so well constructed and delivered that it's quite palatable, with disbelief quite happily suspended - these are normal people, they argue about dinner, ride bicycles, own (vanishing) dogs named 'Leakey', so of course the skull must be real.

The VFX aren't great; the implosion fits where it touches, and the two baby Fendahleen are quite dodgy, though the full size version looks very good, and it doesn't seem to matter that there really is only one of them, because the fourth episode runs at such a clip that it's easy to believe that there's getting on for a dozen, and in any case it's the transformed Thea that's the really scary thing by then.

The Fifth Planet thing in Episode 3 is fairly flagrant padding, but that's forgivable as the rest of the story works so well, and the omission of K-9 (because they didn't know if they were keeping him or not) is a bit obvious, but the story is a triumph.

'The corpse; it's decomposing almost as you look at it'.

Brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jelly Baby, 31 Mar 2012
By 
S J Buck (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
For me this is in the 2nd tier of Dr Who episodes. Its good, in fact very good in places, but its not up there with The Daemons, Talons of WC, or Genesis of the Daleks, hence I haven't given it 5 stars.

That said its captures Tom Baker in fine form in what was probably the last of the gothic Dr Who stories from his time. The lovely Leela is his assistant and K9 makes a brief cameo appearance as well.

The story is interesting, the special effects inevitably look a little silly/dated now but it has a magic that is missing from quite a few of the modern Dr Who stories.

Like a lot of the Tom Baker DVDs its available at a very good price now, and I'm glad I bought it. I feel a 2nd viewing coming up....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Image of the Fendahl, 9 Sep 2010
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R. Thomas "unreadable" (S Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
Coming at the tail end of Who's horror/gothic period this story ends the period in style. Previous stories had the odd scary monster or alien but this story goes furthest into horror as its pretty much a ghost story. A ghostly skull, mad scientist, cultist local and a spooky mansion add to an atmospheric and very quotable story. Staring Tom Baker as The Doctor and Louise Jameson as the savage Leela make a wonderful central pairing as they playfully bounce off each other.

The extra's are all strong, a look back at the making of the story. A commentary which is a tad rambly featuring Tom, Louise, Wanda Ventham and Edward Arther (who puts in one of my favourite performances). Increased sound & picture quality and deleted scenes round this DVD off nicely. A must purchase for Who and Horror fans.
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Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977]
Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] by George Spenton-Foster (DVD - 2009)
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